Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket or placing bets on sports events, most people gamble at some point in their lives. However, for some individuals gambling can become addictive and cause problems with their health and finances. Having an understanding of how gambling works can help you determine if you have a problem and get the treatment that you need.
Gambling involves wagering something of value on an uncertain event where instances of strategy are discounted. The activity has three elements: consideration, risk, and a prize. People may gamble for fun, for money or as a means of social interaction. The most common form of gambling is placing a bet on the outcome of a game or contest, which is often determined by chance or accident. However, it can also be a deliberate attempt to increase one’s income by betting on the success of an investment or event.
It is important to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy forms of gambling. Most healthy types of gambling include activities such as playing cards or board games with friends, participating in a friendly sports wagering pool, or purchasing lottery tickets. These types of gambling are usually not considered as serious as professional gambling. However, the emergence of new technologies like online and mobile betting sites have increased the accessibility of these activities and can be a significant risk factor for problematic gambling.
A person is likely to develop a pathological gambling (PG) disorder when he or she exhibits recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that impair normal functioning. PG typically starts in adolescence or early adulthood, and women develop a PG diagnosis at a slightly faster rate than men. In addition, the type of gambling that triggers a PG episode varies among individuals. Male PG sufferers are more likely to report problems with strategic or face-to-face gambling activities, while female PG sufferers tend to report problems with nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling.
Individuals who have a PG disorder typically experience:
1. Recurrent and persistent compulsive behaviors related to gambling; and
2. Inability to control or stop gambling despite attempts to do so. Those who have a PG disorder may:
3. Continue to gamble even though it causes them harm, including financial, work, and family problems. People who have a PG disorder are also likely to:
4. Lie to others in order to conceal the extent of their involvement in gambling; and
5. Commit illegal acts, such as forgery, embezzlement or theft, in order to finance their gambling activities; and
6. Rely on other people to fund their gambling activities or replace the money they lose from gambling. Individuals who have a PG disorder are also more likely to:
Gambling is a popular pastime for many adults, and it can be an excellent way to relieve unpleasant feelings. However, if you’re struggling with gambling addiction, it’s important to seek treatment right away. Getting the treatment you need can help you break the cycle of harmful behaviors and find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant emotions.